There have always been challenges in the supply chain, and what with the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these issues have been exacerbated. In any case, as business owners are faced with new challenges it encourages innovation—which leads to some surprising ways to overcome said challenges. One thing that can really help drive your business forward and combat a number of supply chain issues is by investing in the appropriate warehousing. But, before we get into that, let’s look at some of the biggest problems faced and what might be done to combat them.
Until recently, material scarcity wasn’t so much of a problem, however, due to the strains of the pandemic material scarcity has become a rather big challenge for many businesses. With insufficient inputs coupled with a rise in demand from consumers, suppliers have been struggling to keep up, thus leading to record-high lead times and wide-scale shortages. Now more than ever, having sufficient working capital to help weather the proverbial storm is crucial—particularly while you wait for peak seasons.
There has been a fairly recent spike in freight prices due to the COVID-19 pandemic which has put a lot of strain on many business owners, particularly those who have been struggling to fulfil large orders. In fact, in the last year freight prices from China to the West jumped by 240%! One way to overcome this is by looking for LTL shipping (less than truckload) where you can consolidate your orders with others in order to fill a shipment. This is often cheaper than shipping fewer products alone.
Forecasting in the middle of a pandemic has been difficult. In fact, all traditional predication methods have all but gone out the window for the time being. This has made it difficult for business owners to figure out exactly how much inventory they will need. To combat this, supply chain managers need to abandon their bias and look to new data sets for forecast models, whilst continually dialling in the results for optimal accuracy.
Port congestion has been a serious issue lately resulting in many companies having their shipments stuck in limbo and unable to unload for last mile delivery. As such, many businesses are unable to get their goods out on time leading to a lot of unhappy customers. Honestly, there is little to do in this case other than give customers ample warning before placing their order or look for alternate routes.
The digitalization of business was an eventuality, but the COVID-19 pandemic has sped this transition up and made it a practical essentiality for business owners who wish to thrive in the new normal. Those who have remained rigid in their methodology have been struggling, whereas those who have embraced digitalization are experiencing even greater success. Certainly, these new systems are services are designed to make the whole process far more efficient, but that doesn’t change the fact that implementing them company-wide is a challenge in itself. The best thing that you can do is lean into these changes and embrace the multitude of technological innovation out there. Integrate, automate, and scale!
So, how can a warehouse help drive your business forward during these uncertain times? For one thing, if your supply chain managers can have proper visibility into warehouse data and operations, they can make quick changes in response to chain snags and backlogs.
Ultimately, there will always been challenges in the supply chain; all you can do is put systems in place that will help you overcome a plethora of problems that may arise. One thing is for certain, having control of your own warehousing comes with a great many benefits—if you couple this with digitalization and automation, you can indeed take your business to unimaginable heights.